Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The 1% rules

That's not an arrogant declaration.

I'm using "rules" as a noun, as a lead-in to brief comments on this piece by Ezra Klein on July 16 in The Washington Post.

Klein is not questioning Mitt Romney's professional and personal success. I'm not questioning that either.

Klein is talking about the circumstances of success in America, and the very, very exclusive and unseemly rewards for the very, very successful among us. I can't say it better than Klein said it, so here's an excerpt:

"There is an increasing sense in the United States that the rich play by different rules than the poor or the middle class — rules that make it easier for them to get even richer. Romney’s problem is that he seems to have taken unusually aggressive advantage of those different rules. Most Americans don’t get to stay on as “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer and president” [as Romney did at Bain] while they try other things. They don’t make money when a firm they invested in goes bankrupt. They don’t get to sell stock their parents gave them to go to college. They don’t get to pay a 13.9 percent tax rate because their money comes from investments rather than wages. They don’t get to shelter cash overseas, or keep between $21 million and $102 million in an IRA.

"When people question these elements of Romney’s history, Romney says they’re attacking his success. They’re not. They’re attacking the fact that once people become successful, they get to play by a set of rules, and fall back on a set of advantages, that make it a lot easier for them to remain successful. They’re questioning whether Romney really understands what the non-rich are going through and the kinds of risks they face. And they’re questioning his policies, which would give more to those who already have so much while cutting spending on the programs that support the neediest Americans."

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